Jonathan: Boko Haram Has Sympathisers in Govt

THISDAY Newspaper- Ahamefula Ogbu

President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, has sympathisers in government, declaring that the current violence is worse than the 1967-1970 Civil War.

Jonathan was speaking at an interdenominational service on a day three literary icons — Professors Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and John Pepper Bekederemo-Clark — issued a joint statement asking Nigerians not to retaliate the sect’s attacks.

“The situation we have in our hands is even worse than the civil war that we fought,” he said at the National Christian Centre, Abuja, yesterday to mark the 2012 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration.

Although the casualty figure of the Boko Haram onslaught is nothing compared to that of the civil war, Jonathan said: “During the civil war, we knew and we could even predict where the enemy was coming from... But the challenge we have today is more complicated.”

He said Boko Haram members and sympathisers could be found throughout the society.

“I remember when I had a meeting with elders from the North-east and some parts of the North-west where the Boko Haram phenomenon is more prevalent,” he said. “Somebody said that the situation is bad, that even if one's son is a member, one will not even know. Some continue to dip their hands and eat with you and you won't even know the person who will point a gun at you or plant a bomb behind your house.”

He added that “some of them are in the executive arm of government; some of them are in the parliamentary/legislative arm of government, while some of them are even in the judiciary. Some are also in the armed forces, the police and other security agencies.

That is how complex the situation is. Our security services are trying because as the president, I know what they are doing. Nigerians may not appreciate their efforts especially when you know that we are under-policed. We have a police force that is about 300,000 in number”.

Meanwhile, Achebe, Soyinka and Bekederemo-Clark have advised Nigerians to resist the temptation to retaliate the ongoing attacks on them, places of worship and private residences by Boko Haram in order not to provide room for celebration to the sect.

The trio in a joint letter, titled: “Let Not this Fire Spread, an Appeal to the Nigerian Nation Community”, said: “This hard, demanding, but profoundly moral and heroic option will be recognised and embraced as the only option for the survival and integrity of the whole. All who claim to be leaders must lead – but in the right direction!”

They lamented that “the fears we have all secretly nursed are coming to realisation. The nightmare we have hugged to our individual breasts, voicing them only in family privacy or within trusted caucuses of friends and colleagues - lest they become instances of materialising evil thoughts - has finally burst through into our social, physical environment.

“Rumblings and veiled threats have given way to eruption, and the first cracks in the wall of patience and forbearance can no longer be wished away. Boko Haram is very likely celebrating its first tactical victory: provoking retaliation in some parts of the nation”.

They admonished Nigerians to muster a collective resolve to tackle the challenges of insecurity in the country, saying: “All who possess any iota of influence or authority, who aspire to moral leadership must act now to douse the first flickers of ‘responses in kind’ even before they are manifested, and become contagious. We urge that, beginning from now, leaders become true leaders in all communities, utilise the platforms of their associations, professions, clubs, places of instruction and places of worship, NGOs and other civic organisations, that they relentlessly spread the manifesto of Community – capital letters! - as an all-embracing human bond, and refuse to be sucked into the cauldron of mutual attrition that is the purpose of the religious warmongers among us.”

They added: “What is proposed here is not any doctrine of submission, of ‘turning the other cheek’, or supine supplication to divine intervention etc. etc. Very much the contrary! Self-defence is a fundamental human right and responsibility.

“However, we caution that we must place the total humanity of our nation above the methods and intent of a mindless, though programmed minority that are resolved to set religion against religion, community against community, destroy the internal cohesion of homes, render meaningless the very concept and imperatives of guest, strangers, the extended human family, and the universalist obligations of hosts as practised under the finest traditions of human encounters.”

The writers further charged Nigerians, as a matter of duty, to “…denounce the killers among us, to deny them, right from source, the sump of blood that is their nourishment, the chaos that is their ambition, and the hatred that has poisoned their collective psyche. Our mission is to prove ourselves superior to them in understanding, to leap ahead of their perverse scheming and preserve our own humanity even as they jettison theirs – if ever they even were aware of its existence”.

Advising the intelligence community, the trio said: “The security arms of government should recognise where their urgent and immediate capabilities and competence are needed, where the greatest threat to nationhood since the Nigerian Civil War has been gloatingly launched, and with a daily toll of casualties of the innocent.”

They also called on the Federal Government to “intensify its obligations to protect the citizenry it claims to govern. The basic professional strategy of preventive policing, which appears no longer in fashion, must be re-activated. Security may appear less glamorous than the moral imposition that is articulated in appeals such as this, but it is nonetheless a crucial partner in the very existence of civil existence and the preservation of civic dignity”.


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